Derelict Harpenden industrial estate set to be demolished for flats

St Albans district council has approved a housing and office scheme for Lea Industrial Estate in Har

St Albans district council has approved a housing and office scheme for Lea Industrial Estate in Harpenden - Credit: Debbie White/Archant

Derelict buildings will be demolished to make way for about 70 apartments and office space along the banks of the River Lea in Harpenden, despite residents’ concerns.

At St Albans district council’s plans north meeting last week Jarvis Homes and Plowman Craven were given approval to knock down the Lea industrial estate on Lower Luton Road in Batford.

The mixed use scheme includes river restoration, a river walk and 20,000 sq ft of office space, 2,500 sq ft of which would be for community use.

Sixty-seven one and two bedroom apartments will be built.

Although it is a brownfield site, some residents had objected because of fears about flooding, and the scheme adding to traffic problems on Lower Luton Road. They asked for the site to instead be turned into a green space.

But councillors at the meeting heard there were also concerns about anti-social behaviour at the riverside location because there are many derelict buildings.

They were told by Matt Swan, chairman of Plowman Craven, based at the site, that the estate was “falling apart.”

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He added: “It is absolutely awful and is vandalised on a daily basis. It’s a dangerous environment to work in. We have worked tirelessly [on the scheme] to make sure we enhance the environment.”

Councillors said they were “strongly in favour” of the scheme, but concerns about flooding and traffic, particularly the impact of Luton Airport’s proposed expansion, were also voiced.

Cllr Michael Weaver said although the estate had been a “vibrant” place in the 1960s, it had gradually become more derelict, adding, “there is a need for new homes”.

The scheme was passed unanimously.

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